Marine Debris Removal Project
Hurricane Dorian hit Abaco on September 1st, 2019. Some estimates suggest approximately 30 years of garbage was created in that one instance. The eye of the storm passed over Central Abaco, with the greatest impact experienced by the Marsh Harbour area and the Cays. Abaco is a maritime community that relies on a healthy and safe marine environment. FRIENDS is working to help facilitate that.
What are our main concerns with marine debris?
- Navigational hazards
- Continued damage to marine ecosystems and animals
How are we approaching it?
- Building partnerships with groups that have expertise and science to implement and inform the project
- Drawing on community knowledge and experience
- Prioritizing areas of importance and high impact
What will we do to help?
FRIENDS has already undertaken a pilot marine debris removal project at Mermaid Reef off Marsh Harbour and we are pleased to say that it went very well! Mermaid Reef was littered with large debris ranging from trees to lawnmowers. Imagery provided by Perry Institute for Marine Science helped identify all the items that needed to be removed and gave us a picture of how much the reef had been changed by the storm. Bahamas Marine Mammal Research Organisation collected samples of marine sediment to test for contaminants. FRIENDS and EcoBlue Projects engaged community partners like Dive Guana as well as volunteer divers and local high school students to physically remove the debris which was then trucked to the island’s main debris staging area.
So what’s next?
FRIENDS is working with local and international partners to progressively clean more areas. More funding is needed to engage barges, heavy equipment, and personnel to move the debris. Some of the priority areas will include: ferry and freight boat routes, nearshore and shoreline areas around Marsh Harbour, and mangrove ecosystems.